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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Cumbria

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Myths and Legends
The Lake District

© Courtesy of Ian Britton,
Putting beauty on the map

A new breed of tourist

The Lake District
© Courtesy of Ian Britton,
Although the notion of travelling for enjoyment was not unheard of, developments in the mid 18th Century opened up the pastime of tourism to a wider demographic. Prior to this period, travel for pleasure and personal development was limited to those wealthy enough to finance the Grand Tour – a cultural route northern Europe designed to educate and enrich the aristocratic mind. However, from 1750 onwards, tours around England became popular with the country’s gentlefolk; keen to interpret the scenery of their own country in terms of the Italian painters they had become acquainted with on their Grand Tour.

By far the most fashionable location was the Lake District, which quickly found favour among landscape painters and poets. The early pioneers of domestic tourism soon followed in their footsteps. The tours were of an ordered and prescribed nature, with specific sites and even views which tourists were advised to visit in order to gain a full appreciation of the beautiful landscape.
Derwent Water
Derwent Water
© Courtesy of Ian Britton,
The proliferation of tourists following guide book itineraries, using a gadget produced to enhance their appreciation of the picturesque landscape soon led to a mean caricature. “I’ll prose it here, I’ll prose it there./I’ll picturesque it ev’ry where.” sang the ‘Laker’ tourist in Combe and Rowlandson’s 'The Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque'.

One of the numerous tourist guide published to satisfy the curiosity generated by the new breed of tourists was Joseph Palmer’s 'A Fortnight’s Ramble in the Lakes in Westmorland, Lancashire and Cumberland', which appeared in 1792. Among his anecdotes and suggested itineraries, Palmer mentions a beautiful inn keeper’s daughter of a village near Keswick.

“On our going into it the girl flew away as swift as a mountain sheep, and it was not till our return from Scale Force that we could say that we first saw her. She brought in part of our dinner and seemed to be about fifteen. Her hair was think and long, of a dark brown, and though unadorned with ringlets did not seem to want them; her face was a fine oval, with full eyes, and lips as red as vermillion, her cheeks had more of the lily than the rose”

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